11 '90s Queens, Ranked By '90s Pop Culture Cred
It's very plausible that, once upon a time, the likes of Kelly Kapowski and Buffy Summers filled your trapper-keeper as girl-spiration, ladies who ruled that much-missed decade called the 1990s. Some '90s queens were fashion icons in their scrunchies and babydoll dresses, and others were important TV heroines. Either way, I have to wonder: which queen of the '90s is the most definitively '90s of all? Well, at long last, I've analyzed and gauged the '90s-ness of 11 of the icons of the era. You're welcome.
Now, there were a lot of factors I considered here, and rest assured, this is not an all-encompassing list of every major female figure in the 1990s. I've watched like two episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, so, even with slightly-above-average knowledge of the era versus the everyday millennial, there's no way I can include everyone. Also, and I know this will anger some people, but there are no Spice Girls on here. Half because I'm not going to lump five girls as one person, half because I am officially overspiced. We all know they were an important part of 1997. Let's move on.
So here is a quick (but subjective and not-to-be-taken super seriously) ranking of some of the best Gen X lady icons.
11. Jennifer Aniston
Whaaaaat? Shouldn't your favorite Friend rank higher? OK, well, here is the thing. Although Rachel Green and her hair are an important part of the decade, Aniston herself doesn't really invoke intense nostalgia for the '90s. And that's not a bad thing; the reason for that is because she hasn't really become less relevant in the past 20 years. Her A-list status makes her important at any age. Still, props for rocking a cut that influenced a bunch of women to try out the layered look.
10. Claire Danes
Pretty much most of what I've said about Aniston applies here, but she has a bit more of an edge because Angela Chase, My So-Called Life, and all those flannels she wore personified teen angst. Also, bonus points for starring opposite of everyone's second grade crush Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.
9. Christina Applegate
Kelly Bundy's pro-spandex style was (and to me, still is) everything. Once again, Applegate is still moderately prevalent these days, so that takes away from the '90s-association a bit, but she really was one of the top tier sex symbols of the decade.
8. Melissa Joan Hart
I don't think anyone has particularly deep feelings for Hart these days, and, even in the '90s, I'm not sure if I could say she was really the girl we all wanted to be. Maybe she was just the girl we all already were? But beyond that, she was ALL OVER THE PLACE. She was in the very glaringly dated (and charmingly neon) Clarissa Explains It All, and she starred as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Those are impressive credentials on their own, but throw in the so 1999 flick Drive Me Crazy, and Britney Spears' similarly titled music video, and you have an insanely '90s resume. She's totally underrated, and credit must be paid.
7. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen
Anyone who can win the heart of Zack Morris and rock a deep side-part without looking like an idiot is '90s royalty in my book.
6. Kate Moss
OK, most people in my generation would argue that Kelly Kapowski should go waaaaay before the runway queen, but honestly? For better or for worse, I'd gamble that a lot more girls were channelling Moss' heroin chic look than the aforementioned deep side part.
5. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Intense bias alert: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite show. And those first three seasons are a very specific time capsule that captures the late '90s. When it comes to my girl here, though, she not only gets props for being the most important pop culture heroine of the entire decade, but she gets extra credit for starring in Cruel Intentions. The amount of brown lipstick she wears in that alone earns her a spot in the top five, no question.
4. Courtney Love
For those obsessed with the grungier side of the decade, Love is the only queen of the '90s. Being the hugest female rock star of the era (or of all time, whatever), married to the most important male rock star of the era definitely puts you up there. And, if it were up to me (although I guess it is, nobody else is writing this list), I'd probably place her as number one. Here's what give me pause: literally every time I mention her to my 22-year-old roommate, she says, "Rest in peace." And I have to tell her, "Courtney Love is very much alive, Emily, she's pretty much my role model and I'll be inconsolable if she ever dies."
So as long as people marginally younger than me are making that (sadly, kind of understandable) mistake, I'm gonna have to sit her at number four.
3. Alicia Silverstone
My 22-year-old roommate does, however, know who Cher Horowitz is. Between stints as the Aerosmith music video girl and her starring role as Clueless, Silverstone was the most popular chick girl in all of 1995. Nobody truly knows what Silverstone is up to these days — weird child-rearing tidbits pop up every once in a while — but I'm sure we all wish her well.
2. Chloe Sevigny
When Sassy Magazine dubs you an it girl, or probably the it girl, it's actually difficult to get more '90s than that. However, there is one other woman who wins the decade...
1. Winona Ryder
My eternal Gen X queen, she is the '90s... and I hope that, in time, she, like the '90s itself, makes a comeback really soon. Wino forever. Everyone else, go home.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (11)